Friday, 2 May 2014


Spring is my favorite season, the flowers are out and the bird start singing. We have had a Robin singing since last October and they will continue to sing until early June. Lots of migrant birds will be coming back soon and they want to set up a territory as soon as possible to attract a mate.

On the cliffs of Shetland I wouldn't exactly call it singing but the calls are all part of the same thing to renew the bond between birds, with the Puffin coming out top every time. Its just part of the whole seabird experience, the sound, the sight and of course the smell.

Although Shetland doesn't have many trees the ones that they have are magnets for all song birds. Robins have now started to breed on a regular basis, Chaffinch can be heard along with Goldcrests at Kergord and usually something unusual turns up.

On our last visit a Song thrush was singing, a rare one at this time of year. Others like Icterine and Sub-alpine warblers have been found well off course from there intended destination. perhaps the one that catches the attention most is the very loud Shetland wren which seems to be everywhere.

The starling is interesting as it mimics other birds calls. We watched one singing away up at Sandwick who would mimic a Curlew, which is amazing. The birds with the most varied and loud songs will attract the best mates so its all about the `voice'

Normally a  post , gate or fence is used to sing from but birds like Meadow Pipit and Skylark don't have that luxury so the have to make do with a sky song. Flying high in the air and hovering giving out their magical song. A skylark was recorded singing for over an hour before descending.

Waders fly over their territory calling or use an occasional post and these birds sing well into the evening. Shetland is the ideal place to be in Spring with the Simmer Dim , a time when its virtually light 22 hours a day, it just needs the energy levels to keep going , and I am not just talking about the birds.
                                                                                                             Golden Plover

Bird song helps with identification especially some of the more difficult warblers and knowing songs can enhance your birding experience. It is difficult to start of with especially as most birds only sing for a few months a year, but seeing and putting a song together lives in the memory for a long time. DVD and CD's can help but there is nothing like being out in the field listening.

Another benefit at this time of year is that the birds are in breeding plumage, with some stunning colours that fade away as the year progresses. Have a great spring where ever you are.

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